School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of Timo Schrader

Timo Schrader

PhD in American Studies, Faculty of Arts


Research Summary

Current Status

PhD (full-time) - currently registered

Research Topic

"Loisaida as Urban Laboratory: Pioneering Community Activism in New York, 1964-2001"

Research Summary

This thesis offers the first in-depth analysis of the network of community activism in one Puerto Rican neighborhood of the Lower East Side from 1964 to 2001. The community of Loisaida organized itself to fight against postwar urban deindustrialization, housing disinvestment, and gentrification, which negatively affected low-income areas. Using an amalgam of unprocessed organizational archives, oral histories, ephemera, and neighborhood publications, I am recreating the cultural urban history of activism in Loisaida. Focusing on key institutions and community groups that mobilized the neighborhood residents and built a lasting activist network, I demonstrate how community groups pioneered a methodology for community activism that I term sustainable activism. Through specific efforts and campaigns that fall under a distinct set of sustainable strategies, I chart how community institutions worked toward the promotion of a broader sustainable living.

Analyzing the interplay of sustainable activism, community organizations, and space in this small urban laboratory of Loisaida, provides two crucial insights: (1) the necessity for community organizations to adapt their activism to changing needs of the community and (2) the importance of neighborhood control over both physical and non-physical (spiritual, cultural, educational) space. This thesis demonstrates the consequences for a neglected urban area in a major transitional phase in United States history: the shift from the 1960s antipoverty programs to the 1980s neoliberal policies. More importantly, it shows the ingenuity and strength of activists to handle this shift in the political and societal landscape by devising strategies to continue their service to the residents of the Lower East Side.

Research Interests

Twentieth century US American history, US American urban culture, urban history, community activism, history of Puerto Ricans in the US, history of protest movements, radical history, cultural history

Research Supervisors

  • Prof. Zoe Trodd
  • Dr. Stephanie Lewthwaite

Primary Funding Source

Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for Research Excellence

Academic Positions

  • Associate Lecturer, New Directions in Historiography, University of Lincoln, 2017-2018
  • Teaching Associate, Approaches to American Culture 2, University of Nottingham, 2017
  • Chair, Learning Community Forum, 2015-2017
  • Web Editor, Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R), 2015-2017
  • Co-director, C3R, 2015-2017
  • Student Representative, Department of American and Canadian Studies (ACS) postgraduate cohort, 2013-2017
  • Impact and Outreach Coordinator, ACS, 2013-2015
  • Student Assistant, Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), 2012-2013


  • Cascade Grant, University of Nottingham, 2016-2017
  • Vice-Chancellor's Medal, University of Nottingham, 2016
  • Rights and Justice Priority Area Excellence Award, University of Nottingham, 2016
  • Historians of Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) Postgraduate Travel Award, 2016-2017
  • Economic History Society (EHS) PhD Bursary Scheme, 2015-2016
  • School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies (CLAS) Postgraduate Research Fund, University of Nottingham, 2015-2016
  • CLAS Student Experience Fund, University of Nottingham, 2015-2016
  • Royal Historical Society (RHS) Conference Travel Award, 2015-2016
  • Graduate School Travel Prize, University of Nottingham, 2015-2016
  • The Elizabeth and Elisha Atkins Postgraduate Travel Award, British Association for American Studies (BAAS), 2015-2016
  • Postgraduate Transatlantic Travel Grant, European Association for American Studies (EAAS), 2015-2016
  • ERASMUS Exchange Program, European Commission, 2010-2011

Conference Organization

  • Historians Against Slavery, October 2017
  • American Studies Academic Retreat, June 17-24, 2017
  • October Dialogues, October 2016
  • American Studies Academic Retreat, May 13-20, 2016
  • October Dialogues, October 2015
  • American Studies Academic Retreat, May 30 to June 6, 2015
  • Postgraduate Symposium, April 27-28, 2015
  • Spring Academy, 2012-13

Public Engagement


Conference Papers and Presentations

  • Adopt-a-Building and the Lower East Side Tenant Movement, Urban History Association, October 13-16, 2016.
  • The Right to the City as a Human Right: A Cultural Urban History of Puerto Rican Community Activism in New York City's Lower East Side, International Association of Inter-American Studies, October 4-6, 2016.
  • Oral Histories as a Resource for Exhibitions and Digital Archives, 2016 HOTCUS Annual Conference, Middelburg, July 6-8, 2016.
  • 'Mejore, no se mude!' New York Puerto Rican Community Activism and the Human Right to the City, 1964-2001, Orientale American Studies International School, May 29-June 3, 2016.
  • The Right to the City: A Cultural Urban History of Puerto Rican Community Activism, BAAS and IAAS Joint Conference, Belfast, April 7-9, 2016.
  • A Cultural History of Puerto Rican Community Activism and the Human Right to the City in New York, 1960s​-1970s, Urban History Group, Cambridge, March 31-April 1, 2016.
  • Puerto Rican Gangs, Community Organizations, and the Right to the City: Lessons from the Lower East Side, 1960s-1970s, HOTCUS Winter Symposium, Dundee, February 13, 2016.
  • 'We are a sovereign state of mind:' Creating a Spiritual Puerto Rican Citizenship through El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico and El Puerto Rican Embassy, American Historical Association, Atlanta, January 7-10, 2016
  • Opening Up the Conference: the October Dialogues as an Example for Academic and Public Collaboration, BAAS Postgraduate Conference, Glasgow, December 5, 2015
  • The New Nottingham Project, presentation for Chancellor Sir Andrew Witty, University of Nottingham, November 23, 2015
  • Dragons and Assassins of Loisaida: Puerto Rican Gang Members Become Community Activists, 49th Parallel Conference, University of Nottingham, June 19, 2015

Professional Memberships

Academic History

  • MA American Studies, University of Nottingham, 2013-14
  • Utrecht Summer School, Universiteit Utrecht, 2013
  • BA English Literature, Culture, and Linguistics with a minor in Educational Science, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, 2009-13
  • ERASMUS Exchange Program, Loughborough University, 2010-11

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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